"If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin."
- Charles Darwin

Nov 29, 2007

Which Sweatshop Would Jesus Exploit?

Christian company uses Chinese sweatshop to make crucifixes.

Capitalist Jesus asks, "What are the residuals on $4.6 billion?"

My friend over at Atheist Revolution has a regular series entitled Know Them By Their Deeds, in which he asks the simple question: what sort of morals do we find among the so-called Moral Majority? Expect to find this story prominently displayed in the coming weeks as the controversy breaks.

A new report by the National Labor Committee documents how the Association for Christian Retailers mass produces crucifixes in a Chinese sweatshop under appalling conditions. The company is the largest supplier of Christian merchandise in the United States with reported earnings of $4.63 billion in 2006. Ed Brayton (of ScienceBlogs) reported on this breaking story for the Michigan Messenger. According to the report:

"Crucifixes are being made at the Junxingye Factory in Dongguan, China, by mostly young women — several just 15 and 16 years old — forced to work routine 14- to 151⁄2-hour shifts, from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 or 11:30 p.m., seven days a week. There are also frequent 17- to 18-hour shifts ending at 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. and even monthly all-night 221⁄2- to 25-hour shifts before shipments must leave for the U.S. All overtime is mandatory, and anyone missing even a single overtime shift will be docked a full day’s wages. It is common for the workers to be at the factory at least 100 hours a week.

"Workers are paid just 261⁄2 cents an hour, which is half of China’s legal minimum wage (already set at a below-subsistence level) of 55 cents an hour. After fees deducted for room and board, the workers take-home wage can drop to just nine cents an hour.

"Workers are housed in primitive dorm rooms sleeping on narrow double-level metal bunk beds that line the walls. There is no other furniture, and the rooms reek of perspiration. The walls are filthy, smudged with black, while spider webs cling to the ceiling. The bathrooms are so damp and dirty that moss grows on the floor. ...Anyone missing a day due to sickness will, as punishment, be docked two-and-a-half day’s wages. Workers fear that they may be handling toxic chemicals, but they are not told the names of the chemicals and paints, let alone their potential health hazards."

But don't worry. I'm sure Jesus was there with these girls every step of the way, reminding them that if they take any unauthorized bathroom breaks they'll be beaten with a rubber hose. Afterall, it's his image they're producing and he's entitled to 12%. (On a totally unrelated note, what was that little issue about graven images?)

My faith in the Moral Majority is starting to erode a little. What's next? Trent Lott stepping down as Republican Congressional leader amidst allegations of hiring a gay prostitute?

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PandoraLairg said...

Just an ordinary Grandma, but one who thinks a lot, so pleased I found your blog. Will eagerly await further postings, as your previous ones have been so interesting and informative. The recent post about sweat shops, may I use that photo sometime?

Eric Michael Johnson said...

Thanks for the kind words. Please feel free to use the image, I found it abandoned online. I would have liked to have given a source but I searched for about an hour with no success.

Mirandian said...

Random browsing...came across your Blog. Interesting. As for faith in Moral Majority, I don't think I have any.

lousirr said...

They have taken the name
in Vain!

They worship mammon.
Why do they worship mammon?
Do they not see?
That freedom is to be found
in Meh?

You fools!